‘The Mousetrap' a classic thriller

A group of seven strangers find themselves snowed in at this remote guesthouse. One of them is a murderer. Can you solve this legendary murder mystery for yourself?
David Blanco  |  Art & Culture

To celebrate the 70th anniversary of Agatha Christie’s ‘The Mousetrap’, this landmark thriller is touring nationally in a new sell-out production directed by Australian film and stage legend, Robyn Nevin. ‘The Mousetrap’ debuted on London’s West End in October 1952 and has been thrilling audiences worldwide ever since. Christie’s classic thriller boasts the longest run of any play anywhere in the world.

It’s midwinter 1952, and the setting is Monkswell Manor in Berkshire. A group of seven strangers find themselves snowed in at this remote guesthouse. One of them is a murderer. Can you solve this legendary murder mystery for yourself?

David Blanco from the FUSE team spoke with Helpmann Award-winning Actor Alex Rathgeber about the enduring appeal of ‘The Mousetrap’ and his leading role as guesthouse host Giles Ralston.

FUSE: What can Canberra audiences expect when they come to see ‘The Mousetrap’?  

Alex Rathgeber: Audiences can really expect to see exactly why this play has been running since 1952 - Agatha Christie’s writing is as brilliant now as it was when this play first opened 70 years ago. It’s incredibly compelling and a lot of fun. The dialogue is overflowing with witty, astute, timeless observations of human behaviour. What’s more, there’s a murder mystery to be solved! It's laden with clues - and a red herring or two - so it pays not to get distracted.

FUSE: Can you please tell FUSE readers about Giles Ralston, the character you play?  

Alex: I love playing Giles. He’s newly married to gorgeous Mollie, and together they’re relishing the beginning of married life and the first days of their new guest house opening in the English countryside. There’s a playfulness between Giles and Mollie as they set about living up to their own expectations and the expectations of their guests, to say nothing of how they manage to deal with the unexpected... 

FUSE: “The Mousetrap” has gone beyond being merely a play, it has become a quintessential London tourist experience. What is it about “The Mousetrap” that has guaranteed its 70-year run in theatres around the world? 

Alex: First, it's very funny. I don’t think audiences necessarily expect to laugh so much. Generally, people seem to be very pleasantly surprised by how madcap it is. Plus, from what I’m told, the murder mystery is incredibly engaging and it’s, therefore, genuinely quite difficult to figure out ‘whodunnit'. The way it’s written and crafted, we manage to keep them wondering and second-guessing right until the end.  

Alex Rathgeber •

FUSE: Some critics have stated that the whodunnits have a distinct queer sensibility, which is attributed to the often ‘camp,’ flamboyant and glamorous elements of their characters and settings. Examples of this are the film adaptations of Agatha Christie’s novels ‘Evil Under the Sun’ and ‘The Mirror Crack’d” and more recently, Rian Johnson’s films “Knives Out” and “The Glass Onion”. What are your thoughts on this?  

“The cleverest murder mystery of the British Theatre. I think The Mousetrap could run forever” – Daily Telegraph UK

Alex: Yes, I know what you mean, and I have to say I’ve always loved that over-the-top, ridiculous aspect to British humour in particular. The characters, and the scenarios they find themselves caught up in, are invariably somewhat larger than life. Though, it’s most effective when it’s rooted in some sort of truth. Too camp or flamboyant and it can very quickly become unfunny. That’s always the challenge for us - to find that sweet spot with the level of theatricality we imbue it. But I think Agatha Christie wrote The Mousetrap in such a way that it very successfully straddles both comedic and dramatic territory, so a lot of the work is already done. I like the ways it holds up a mirror up for us to see our own silliness. 

FUSE: You have received critical acclaim for your work in musical theatre and have starred in iconic shows including “Anything Goes”, “The Phantom of the Opera”, “The Boy Friend” and “The Rocky Horror Show”. “The Mousetrap” is a decidedly non-musical show. What made you want to be a part of this production?

Alex: The primary attraction for me was the opportunity of working with our director, Robyn Nevin, who I adored working with on The Drowsy Chaperone for Melbourne Theatre Company a number of years ago - though we were both in the cast for that show. The way Robyn approaches her work is something I draw a lot of inspiration from. She’s always looking to interrogate our interpretation of the text, staging and intentions behind it all, in an effort to optimise the overall impact and potency of the piece. In the rehearsal room with Robyn is a thrilling place to be.  

FUSE:  The cast includes seasoned performers including Geraldine Turner, Gerry Connolly and Anna O’Byrne as your wife Mollie. How has it been working with this stellar ensemble?  

Alex: Having already toured the show to Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, Melbourne and Perth, we’ve very much become a little touring family of sorts - or perhaps I should say allsorts (myself included)! It’s a really fun, quirky mix of people, which works perfectly for the show. As actors, we work so closely with one another and we share, as well as on-stage, so many beautiful small moments together off-stage and behind-the-scenes. We’ve had a lot of laughs. 

FUSE: Reviews of this production of “The Mousetrap” have referred to director Robyn Nevin exploring subtexts in the material beyond the usual tropes of murder mysteries. These include class division in 1950s Britain, queer sexuality and generational trauma, which are subtly addressed without the play losing its capacity to thrill and entertain. Do you agree?  

Alex: I absolutely agree. With Robyn’s guidance, we’ve really enjoyed exploring all the societal and political commentary undercurrents of the play. The more we’re able to delicately dissect and highlight the underlying meanings, the more resonant and entertaining it becomes for today’s audience. 

FUSE:: Finally Alex, whodunnit?  

Alex: Tell me after the show if you solved it yourself..!


The Mousetrap is touring Australia. Canberra | Sydney | Brisbane

Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap is touring Australia to celebrate its 70th Anniversary

After a local woman is murdered, the guests and staff at Monkswell Manor find themselves stranded during a snowstorm. It soon becomes clear that the killer is among them, and the seven strangers grow increasingly suspicious of one another. A police detective, arriving on skis, interrogates the suspects: the newlyweds running the house; a spinster with a curious background; an architect who seems better equipped to be a chef; a retired Army major; a strange little man who claims his car has overturned in a drift; and a jurist who makes life miserable for everyone. When a second murder takes place, tensions and fears escalate.

The longest-running West End show, The Mousetrap has by far the longest run of any play anywhere in the world, with over 28,500 performances so far. This record-breaking murder mystery features a brilliant surprise finish from the foremost mystery writer of all time, which the audience is traditionally asked not to reveal after leaving the theatre.

Agatha Christie originally wrote the story as a short radio play entitled Three Blind Mice, which was  broadcast in 1947 as a birthday present for Queen Mary. She eventually adapted the work into a short story before again rewriting it for the stage as The Mousetrap.

The Mousetrap is produced by John Frost for Crossroads Live Australia and directed by Australian theatre icon Robyn Nevin.

“It’s classic Christie, a play for the ages and a study in theatrical perfection” –

“The pace is cracking, the timing excellent, the characterisations warm and full.” – The Guardian

“The Mousetrap delivers everything adored by legions of Christie fans. Mystery, gentle thrills, characteristic humour and old-world elegance.” – Suzy Goes See

For 70 years, Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap has kept millions of people from every corner of the globe on the edge of their seats. It is the genre-defining murder mystery from the best-selling novelist of all time … case closed!

Can you solve this world-famous mystery for yourself?


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